FAQs : Future Students
Application and timing


Credit and Academics

Life Abroad


When should I start planning to study abroad?

Application deadlines vary by program, but are generally due about one semester before your semester abroad. As a general rule, you should start researching programs and gathering information 6 – 9 months before you plan to go abroad. For students planning on studying abroad in Japan, the application deadline is one year prior.

Do I have to wait until my junior year to go abroad?

No! There are limited opportunities for freshmen and sophomores and, in some cases, graduate students. Juniors and seniors have generally obtained the proper number of units and requirements to go abroad.

What if I missed the application deadline?

Unfortunately, you will have to apply for the following semester. Talk with your advisor to find out about your options.

What is the difference between a passport photo and a passport copy?

passport photo is a professional quality photograph of your face against a solid white background.  US passport photos are 2”x 2” but you may be required to neatly trim your photos to the exact dimensions required by your host country.  Please refer to the US Department of State guide to producing acceptable passport photos.  Any photo that does not meet the standards outlined by the Department of State will be rejected and may negatively affect your chances of placement.

passport copy is a photocopy of the particulars page of your passport.  Be sure that your photo, personal information, and signature are clear and easy to read on your passport copy.  It is not necessary to use high quality paper.

Is it expensive to study abroad?

That depends. Studying abroad can be as inexpensive or as expensive as you make it. Factors to consider are program type, your status as an in-state or out-of-state student and the cost of living in the place where you will study. However, the single biggest factor is usually how much independent travel you do on weekends and breaks.

Can I use my financial aid to study abroad?

Usually. Your financial aid is generally processed as it normally is for resident credit programs (you pay tuition to SDSU).  Using financial aid for a transfer credit programs (you pay tuition to a study abroad program) is more complicated.  Contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships or your Education Abroad Advisor to see if your financial aid can be used for your specific transfer credit program.

If you determine that your transfer credit program will allow you to use your aid, then you must complete either a Special Enrollment Agreement or a Contractual Agreement both of which can be found on the Forms and Checklists page. 

For most study abroad programs, you are eligible to be considered for financial aid for no more than one academic year as an undergraduate student and no more than one semester as a graduate student.

How do I use my financial aid for my study abroad program? 

Applying for financial aid for studying abroad is the same as applying for aid as a regular student. You must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as indicated on the SDSU Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships website. By filing the FAFSA, you are applying for federal grants and student loans. We encourage you to apply early in the calendar year for assistance in the upcoming academic year. 

Do I get extra financial aid to assist with study abroad costs?

For most programs, your eligibility is based on SDSU's standard cost of attendance for living in off-campus housing. In some circumstances, your education abroad advisor can provide the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships with documented proof of higher expected costs for your specific program abroad. This could possibly increase your loan eligibility if you weren't originally awarded your yearly maximum. If your income will decrease from the past tax year due to not being able to work while studying abroad, you may file a Students Request for Review with the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. They may consider you for higher need based aid or possibly increase the amount of aid you've already been awarded.

Should I use a Contractual Agreement or a Special Enrollment Agreement?

Contractual Agreement - For students using financial aid for independent programs or ISEP Direct where their transcript is issued by a non Title IV institution abroad (AIFS, ISA, etc.). 

Special Enrollment Agreement - For students using financial aid for independent programs or ISEP Direct where their transcript is issued by a US university or college or a Title IV institution abroad. (Butler, Acadia, University of Virginia, etc.)

What is a Title IV institution?

Your host institution is Title IV if it has a U.S. Federal school code.  You can check if your host institution is Title IV by doing a federal school code search. The search will ask, "What State is the school in?"- select "foreign country" from the dropdown menu.

Where can I get more information about financial aid and scholarships?

For a complete list of scholarships and financial aid options, visit the Finances page. Please also contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships if you have any questions.

Will my classes transfer back to SDSU?

Yes. You will receive SDSU credits and grades for some classes; you will receive only SDSU credits for others. You should begin working with an academic advisor and an Education Abroad Advisor well in advance of going abroad to make this go smoothly.

If I study abroad will I still graduate on time?

You should. We work hard to make sure that taking part in one of our programs will not delay your graduation. With reasonable planning, any SDSU student can have a great international experience and still graduate on time.

Am I academically eligible to study abroad?

Students are considered academically eligible to study abroad if they have the GPA required for the program (as well as any program-specific prerequisite classes), favorable references, and are in good academic standing. Students on academic probation will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must abide by all relevant university policies.

Do I have to speak a foreign language to study abroad?

Not usually. Over half of our programs allow you to take courses in English, either in English-speaking countries or in specially-designed programs in other countries. However, SDSU does offer many options for students who wish to take some or all of their courses in another language.

Can I study a foreign language while abroad?

Yes! study abroad is a great time to learn a new language or become more fluent in one you are already studying. There are language intensive programs available for interested students.

How long can I study abroad?

SDSU has options as short as a week or as long as a year. We have many programs that last for six or eight weeks in the summer and many semester programs, too. Note that a very high percentage of study abroad participants report that they wish they had gone for a longer term!

Where will I live?

Housing options vary by program. Typically students choose between dormitories, shared apartments or home stays with local families.

Can I work while I'm abroad?

This depends on the flexibility of your visa. Check with the consulate of your host country to be sure.


Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view, download Adobe Acrobat Reader.